The MA and Me

So, I’m on a Masters… not a Masters in education, as was suggested to me during the Poster Presentations ession of the PGCE, but a Masters in Art Practice.

Now, as excited and as proud as I am to have been accepted onto this course and as eager as I am to start, I find myself belittling it. It’s been something that, over the past few months, I’ve caught myself doing, and doing a lot. Not just with the Masters, but with every aspect of my life.

I would like to state the fact, and make it heard, that I’m proud of my choice to return home and set up a life after China and travel, and then after only being home for a few months start a PGCE in Further Education and Training. Continue to do very well in the PGCE, excel within my placement, and work part-time as a caregiver alongside it all. After finishing the course and placement, I applied for and gaining a position on the MA in Art Practice, despite not having studied or even academically practicing my own photography in about 5 years…

I’m only 26, and have done a lot already, and have plans to do so much more with myself as the years go on, yet, I find myself talking down my accomplishments, my personal milestones, and basically, my life.

When I’m working there’s a fairly repetitive and regular dialogue that ensues between myself and either the old ladies I care for, or the staff I work with:

So, what are you going back to uni to study, are you in your final year?” Continue reading

Deadlines and Evaluations.

Wednesday 19thDecember, 2018.
This was our first (and dreaded) deadline day for assignment hand-ins at university, despite our course starting almost 3 months before.

For this, we had to plan, execute and evaluate a MicroTeach (MT), and also do an observation of an experienced tutorand reflect on what we learnt, pinpointing some of the teaching methods used.

As far as assignments go, I actually really enjoyed these two! Planning the MicroTeach was something different and a bit of a challenge, but one that I would happily do again. It was nice we were given so much freedom of what to teach within the 30 minute class. We were literally told we could do whatever we wanted, as long as we kept it respectful and achievable within the time limit, and without needing a crazy amount of resources! I think this is why so many people struggled with deciding on a topic. With so much freedom, where do you start? Similar to why lots are finding it difficult to write these reflective blogs. In education we’re told from so young exactly what to do, what to write, and how to do it. Yet now, here we are, being given almost unlimited possibilities and freedom to teach whatever we want (for the MT), and blog however we find easiest about our education or teaching. It’s a difficult thing to allow yourself to be free in education when we’ve been given so many constraints in the past.

Choosing my topic for the MT was quite easy; I wanted to teach a skill that not many others have. A lot were going to teach an introduction to a different language, but I wanted to make mine a little different, focusing on counting from 1-10 in Mandarin, including the hand gestures. I love coming up with ideas and activities to Continue reading

The 3 P’s: Procrastination, Placement and PPTs

I planned on writing this blog about 2 weeks ago. I’ll be honest, in my head, I was going to be writing a short blog entry once a week. That’s obviously not happened, and part of the reasoning for that is my incredible procrastination skills.

Each week I feel like I’m not working to my full potential. I’m not making the best use of my time. And I’m definitely not getting enough productive work done. In theory, I’ve been pretty well organised and have an ideal amount of time during the week to get my uni work and reading done, prepare for my ESOL sessions, and everything else that goes with daily life. I’m in uni “all day” Monday & Friday, and I only work from 6pm onwards Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Weekends are a write off, I’m either off gallivanting (most recent was a concert and Christmas Markets in Manchester, and next week we’re off to stay in a Gypsy Caravan), or I’m working alllll weekend. And I mean all weekend.

I ended up finding and watching a TED talk the other day, all about procrastination. It was really interesting, totally relatable, and a seriously great way to put off doing any work for 15 more minutes. Give it a watch and see if you relate to the panic monster, or the instant gratification monkey. That poor rational decision maker doesn’t get a look in as often as it should!

Panic Monster - Procrastination

Ok, now I’ve finished procrastinating by looking at the topic of procrastination, let’s get onto some proper blog writing…

My original idea for this blog post was reflecting on my 3rd and 4th Session with my ESOL in the Community group. For the 3rd session, there was only 1 learner able to attend. This actually worked out really well for the individual learner (let’s call her L.1). L.1 has the lowest English ability of our little group, so she really benefitted from being taught 1-on-1 as I was able to slow down the session to her pace, going over some simple grammar points and vocab words which perhaps the other learners would have sailed through. Continue reading

From China to the Chinese

Imagine my delight when I was told one of our assignments for uni is to write a minimum of 3 reflective blogs.
FINALLY!
I’ve been given an excuse to tap away at the keys again and upload more of my rambling thoughts and feelings onto my dusty old blog.

This blog has gone from a personal venting space (a ‘let me try and sort my life/mind out’sort of thing), to somewhere for me to pass the time while I was bored sat at my desk in work, and then it became a place for me to tell the tales (and brag about) my travels around South East Asia. Well, hold onto the handlebars kids, this rollercoaster of a blog is about to take another wild turn… It’s about to become my “Academic, reflective blog”… It won’t be as interesting or as exciting as me telling you about (prepare for some more casual bragging here) that one time I rented a scooter and rode the Hai Van Pass in Vietnam, or the time I went to a questionably named festival under the Hong Kong skyline (Clockenflap, I’m talking about you)…

 

But, it is nice to have something that will have adapted with me and travelled through my ups and downs and twirly-whirly path of life I’ve found myself on, at the ripe old age of 25.

Anyways, I’ll quit rambling now, that’s definitely something I’m going to have to try and get better at for these posts!

Here we go, my first academic, reflective blog… enjoy!

Let me start with a genuine conversation I had with my mum and my sister:

Me: “I’m freaking out a bit! I mean, I’m going to be an actual teacher, like, I’m going to have to teach people things!” 
Mum: “Why are you freaking out, you’ve done this…”
Me:What? No I haven’t, I’ve got no experience of being a teacher, how am I supposed to handle this year?!”

Sister: “Charlie, what do you think you’ve been doing for the past year and a half…? You’ve been working at a school, TEACHING English to Chinese kids… you’re already a teacher.”
Me: “Oh… right. I mean, that didn’t count. Wait, did that count? Damn… I never thought of that.”

 For my whole life, I’ve grown up saying “I’ll never be a teacher, can’t think of anything worse!”. This is basically just because I’ve seen the Continue reading

Coming up…

Now it’s time to stop looking back, and look forward… In just over a week I’m flying down to Langkawi, Malaysia. I’m spending 2 nights there, and then 3 nights on a crazy small Thai island, Koh Lipe, and after that… I have no set plan. I’m going at it alone, for the first time in my life; I’ll be travelling (for more than 5 days) on my own. Just me. No childhood best friend. No travel buddy I met in China. No one. It’s been something I’ve always wanted to do, and do slowly. When I was a teenager I dreamed of picking up, leaving, and having no life plan. I wanted to travel to different countries, working as I went along to earn enough money for my next destination. Sadly, as I got older, and some might say wiser (?), I realised, for me, that’s not a feasible way to do it. And you know what? It’s taken me a long time, but I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that that’s okay.

Being in the kind of environment I’ve found myself in, surrounded by travellers, people who only know how to live internationally, people who spend every weekend, every holiday, every day off going out to explore new places… it makes you view your own adventures and plans very differently. I sometimes feel inferior to the people around me, a lesser “ex-pat” or “traveller” because my list of ticked off countries isn’t as long as theirs… You live in this constant different mind-set that the only reason you’re here, the only reason you’re working 40 hours a week and living in a country that makes every task difficult, is to get that next stamp in your passport. And, please, don’t think I’m Continue reading

Summer 2017 #10 : Hanoi #3, Vietnam

Hanoi

Arrived: Wednesday 2nd August 2017 [Day22]

Departed: Friday 4thnd August 2017 [Day24]

Hostel: Hostel: Central Backpackers Hostel: Original

 It was a long and bumpy journey from Sapa to Hanoi in the dark. I spent it reading, listening to music, messaging friends and just lying there. We got dropped off in Hanoi again at around 9:30pm, and walked to our 2nd home: Central Backpackers – Original. We were both a bit grump and snappy with each other (definitely hangry). I messed up the directions walking back to the hostel, and Alice kept flapping the towel which made the lift doors open again, and again, and again before I snatched the towel off her. We dumped our bags, gave each other a look, and agreed we needed to go get some food before we lost it with each other. We went to a place just down the road and had a much needed burger and chips before going back to room #7 and getting some sleep (as much as we could with the worlds loudest snorer in our room).

We woke up, grabbed some breakfast (back to our standard of eggs and bread), and then chilled in the room until around 10:30am (I felt the need to write down in my journal that I brushed my teeth downstairs in the lobby area… Again, so much pointless Parker!) At half 10, Nathan, the hostel rep who had done the Halong Bay thing with us, came to the hostel to round up the troops for the free walking tour. (This hostel was definitely one of the most helpful and handy hostels we’d stayed at. Free towels, free breakfast (even when leaving super early), a warm welcome every time, free beer hour, great Halong Bay trip, free walking tour, reserving a table for us at the Indian, and helping us book and sort out busses.)

There were quite a lot of us (maybe 20-30) on the walking tour, and Nathan led us a few doors down to a small hidden temple which was roughly 900years old and one of the oldest standing buildings in Hanoi. We couldn’t go in if we were wearing shoes or had our shoulders or knees on show (standard practice). So most of us just stood in the little opening and looked at it from the outside.

Next up was the huge cathedral. “What do you guys think? Do you like it? Think it’s beautiful? Huge? Awesome?” Nathan asked us, we all responded with nods of agreement… “Well, you’re going to feel real bad about that when I tell you it’s history!”  St Joseph’s Cathedral was Continue reading

Summer 2017 #9 : SaPa, Vietnam

SaPa

Arrived: Sunday 30th July 2017 [Day19]

Departed: Wednesday 2nd August 2017 [Day22]

Hostel: My Tra Homestay, Sapa

 The journey from Hanoi to SaPa was around 5 hours long, and we were lucky enough to be on a sleeper style bus again. I’ve been laughing to myself while I’ve been re-reading my journal because I really do write down every last little stupid detail. Let me give you an example, here’s a direct quote from my journal about the bus journey from Hanoi to Sapa:

I slept a lot, read a lot, lost my banana, and just enjoyed the insane views of the greenery, valleys and mountains.

Yep, I lost my banana. The hostel had given us a banana to takeaway for breakfast, and I dropped mine on the bus within the first hour or so. I took it as a lost cause, and clearly thought it was important enough to write down… I also thought I’d lost my shoes or pillow or something, but it turns out both had fallen down onto the guy below/opposite me. As we were getting off and I climbed down from my bed/seat, he sheepishly handed me a banana and my other lost items… Only slightly embarrassing! Poor fella spending 5 hours getting attacked by my falling belongings… fair play to him though for not munching on the banana!

So, yes, the journey was beyond beautiful, as you’d expect heading further north in Vietnam. We even skimmed past the Chinese boarder and both Alice and I joked about putting our multi-entry Vietnamese and Chinese Visa’s to good use and just nipping over the boarder! When we arrived into Sapa, it Continue reading